Schlumberger, now SLB, has been granted a fresh exemption from the requirement to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for its source storage and calibration facility in Guyana, located at Houston, East Bank Demerara.
The first was quashed by the country’s High Court because of procedural issues, after concerned residents filed a lawsuit saying their health and community were at risk. Following the ruling, SLB was forced to make a new application to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The Agency on April 16, said it took into account SLB’s project site verification report, environmental assessment and management plan 2022, project summary, the International Atomic Energy safety standards and security guidelines, and additional environmental information in making its decision.
It said the facility will calibrate and store sealed radioactive sources, enclosed in tightly sealed capsules, surrounded by layers of non-radioactive material. The EPA said SLB’s inventory of radioactive sources came under Categories 3-5 as per the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Categorisation of Radio-active Sources (No.RS-G-1.9).
“It is important to note that the IAEA has specified that these sources may only pose a potential risk to individuals close to them when they are unshielded, with typical durations ranging from days to weeks,” the EPA said.
The EPA said that SLB’s operation has demonstrated adequate safety and security measures to effectively limit public exposure to radiation in keeping with IAEA safety standards.
“The facility will not produce radioactive waste. All sealed sources that are no longer in use or fail to meet the requirements for operations will be deemed disused,” the EPA pointed out. Those will then be returned to their manufacturers outside of Guyana.
The Agency explained that the sources will not be transported along the main thoroughfares as they are returned offshore via vessel leaving the Port west of SLB’s facility.
The EPA’s exemption can be challenged within 30 days of the published noticed. Its decision in no way means that the project was approved, nor does it permit SLB resume operations at the facility. It was forced to stop per the Court’s orders until a new application was made to the EPA.
Schlumberger says it is the world’s leading provider of technology for reservoir characterisation, drilling, production, and processing to the oil and gas industry and is a major service provider to Exxon providing technical support for its operations in the Stabroek Block which have to date resulted in proven reserves.
In 2017, Schlumberger decided to invest significantly and established a long-term footprint in Guyana through its US$75 million oil services facility base at Houston.